Welcome to a new brand of Mizzou men’s basketball.
Not usually known for their shooting, the Missouri Tigers and University of Pennsylvania Quakers introduced the fans at Mizzou Arena to a three-point shootout, which featured 12 different players with at least one make from beyond the arc.
Noah Carter led the party with 28 points, including six makes from beyond the arc, emphasizing why he was named to the Missouri Valley Conference 2nd Team one year ago.
“I’ve been telling everybody I just need one shot to go in, and I got that opportunity and went with it,” Carter said.
Friday’s matchup pitted Mizzou (2-0) and Penn (0-2) against each other for the first time in program history. The Quakers, fresh off a 28-point loss against Iona, looked hungry for a bounce-back win, while the Tigers hoped to build off the first victory of the Dennis Gates era.
“Tonight’s game was a hard fought game,” Gates said. “We made shots, and I think those made shots put us in a jump shooting habit. I didn’t want to get into that early, but ... that forced us to use one of our strengths and that’s shooting the basketball.”
Mizzou roared out of the gate. connecting on six of their first seven three-point attempts, including the five consecutive makes on their first five possessions. Kobe Brown tallied the first of his two three-point makes, finding an open look from the wing.
From there, the three-point flurry began.
Carter drilled his first three attempts, sandwiched between a three-point connection from D’Moi Hodge, who finished with 17 points. The former finished with six three-pointers, while the latter added three of his own, including a make with 2:44 remaining to seal the victory.
Penn countered with a run of its own following the early rally of points, blitzing the Tigers with a 14-0 stretch, where they rolled off three consecutive three-pointers.
The momentum carried with them throughout the first half as the Quakers finished the half with eight makes from beyond the arc and a 46.9% mark from the field. Perhaps the biggest key to their success came on the boards, where Penn grabbed 23 rebounds, including eight of the offensive variety.
Without much success in the rebounding game (15 in the first half), Mizzou turned to a key component of Dennis Gates’ key focuses throughout the early going—defense.
The Tigers, who forced 22 turnovers against Southern Indiana, added to the tally with 12 in the first half against the Quakers. Jordan Dingle, Penn’s leading scorer from its first game against Iona, accounted for half of those alone.
Using those mistakes to its advantage, Mizzou posted 19 points off turnovers in the half en route to shooting 42.4% from the field and 47.1% from three-point range. Despite the success, however, the halftime scoreboard read — Mizzou 43, Penn 43.
The beginning of the second half showcased a mix of back-and-forth basketball, but as Mizzou’s three-point shooting continued to improve, so did its lead.
Noah Carter led the offensive charge for a majority of the second half, displaying his ability to be the go-to guy in tough situations that Gates has talked about finding.
The Northern Iowa transfer scored the Tigers’ first two points of the half en route to scoring 17 of his 28 points in the second half alone. Carter made his presence felt on every side of the ball, grabbing seven offensive rebounds, notching two steals and shooting 75% from beyond the arc.
The three-headed transfer guard trio of Tre Gomillion, D’Moi Hodge and Nick Honor combined for 44 points and nine steals, providing quite the punch on both offense and defense as well. Their presence alongside Carter helped to guide the Tigers past a couple of late runs from Penn, who never seemed to back down.
The Quakers rattled off two rallies of five and seven points to tie the game at 57 and 67, respectively. From then on, however, the Tigers took over.
Gomillion gave Mizzou the lead for good, drilling a three-pointer with about six minutes remaining. Less than four minutes later, behind the transfer quartet of Carter, Gomillion, Hodge and Honor, the Tigers had exploded for a 12-point lead at 83-71.
Nine free throws sandwiched between three Penn three-pointers and a dunk sealed the 92-85 victory for Mizzou, who improved to 2-0 under Gates. The Quakers, meanwhile, dropped to 0-2 despite shooting 50% from beyond the arc and out-rebounding the Tigers 37-29.
Defensively, Mizzou displayed its toughness and grit, forcing 19 total turnovers and creating uncomfortable situations for the Penn offense all evening. The display of defensive talent caught the attention of Quakers head coach Steve Donahue.
“The most impressive thing is when you put a group of kids together that hadn’t played and get them to buy-in ... that’s impressive, just the whole team defense.”
Even with the victory, Mizzou’s biggest storyline from the game proved to be someone who didn’t even help them to victory— Isiaih Mosley. The hometown talent did not see any time on the court, but instead remained sidelined.
“DNP,” Gates said. “We have depth and hopefully you can see how differently we can play. What’s going to be interesting is to see how well we are when all cylinders are clicking.”
The next opportunity for Mosley (possibly) and Mizzou to take the court will be Sunday when the Tigers take on the in-state Lindenwood Lions at 5 p.m. The Lions, if you recall, are another team playing their first season in D-I.